a reflection on christian unity


This week’s catholic dialogue column for the Prairie Messenger is titled Vatican II gift is progress in ecumenical movement. It’s a reflection on the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Rather than bemoaning the divisions in our Christian family, we should rejoice all that unites us.

I am old enough to remember the “good old days” before the documents of Vatican II were put into practice. Those were the days of catechism lessons about salvation being found only in the Catholic Church. We weren’t allowed to attend a Protestant service without special permission. The movement towards a more ecumenical and inter-religious spirit was one of the greatest gifts given to us by the Council Fathers.

The needs of today’s world demands that we enter into true dialogue with women and men of all faiths, and no faith. The sins and weaknesses of our church forces us to embrace a spirit of humility. It also forces us to seek the core of our belief, the truth that is never changing.

Through dialogue, we can share the gift of this truth and be nourished by the gifts of others. In this mutual interchange, we can seek and find common ground in our shared beliefs and good works.

The mentality of Catholic Triumphalism deserves to be left behind in the dust with other out-dated understandings of our faith. The progress that has been made in the ecumenical movement is reason to rejoice. Of course we must continue to pray for a deepening of unity among all Christians, but we mustn’t forget to include a prayer of thanksgiving.

2 thoughts on “a reflection on christian unity

  1. Wow! the 1000th comment! Let the bells ring out. Let the banners fly!!
    I feel like all of a sudden I’ve been given a soapbox and should say something really significant… like I can have a good rant…
    What you say in your last posting rings sweetly in my ears!
    And oecuminism also means openness within our own Church, I should think.
    The second reading (1 Corinthians 12, 12) which we read so lovingly as the Word of God at last Sunday’s Eucharist is oh so beautiful… “As a body is one though it has many parts…”
    Paul was living the same problems we are facing today. In fact, Paul did not know a Church without dissension, sometimes pretty aggressive dissension… Yet he wrote those beautiful words..
    Have you heard of or read Congar’s diary that he kept while living Second Vatican Council, and giving lectures for the bishops… many of whom arrived in Rome as good bishops who knew how to manage a diocese, but had a lot to learn about the new theology of Church. They were almost panicking, clamoring for information… trying to get “up to speed.”
    When I get really upset with… or have trouble seeing the forest for the trees…
    I take myself back to 1 Kings 19: 11 “Go out and stand on the mountain,” the LORD replied. “I want you to see me when I pass by.”
    All at once, a strong wind shook the mountain and shattered the rocks. But the LORD was not in the wind. Next, there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 Then there was a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire.
    Finally, there was a gentle breeze, 13 and when Elijah heard it, he covered his face with his coat. He went out and stood at the entrance to the cave.
    The LORD asked, “Elijah, why are you here?”

    It is true that we all want the same thing. We all want to love and be loved by God. We all want everyone, especially those close to us, to be with God, to share in his divine life…
    And sometimes we think or do the right thing for the right reasons, and sometimes we do the wrong thing for the right reason…
    If what we do engenders lack of compassion, of love, then it is not God’s way, God’s true Law.
    God’s love is openness and communion.
    True, absolutely, but oh how difficult to live!
    As difficult today as for the first disciples of Jesus, even those who actually knew him and were taught by him.
    God is in the gentle breeze…

    Thanks for the soapbox. (I’ll try not to abuse of it…)
    And thanks for the blog.
    God bless!

  2. Ah, the soapbox was used well….much truth spoken, with passion and heart! Thanks, Gilles! And, no, I haven’t read Congar’s diary. I have a few books on workings of Vatican II waiting for a good read.

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